Cyrus launched Persia’s imperial venture, and his conquests laid the foundation for the first Persian Empire. In 585 B.C.E. Cyrus became king of the Persian tribes and in 553 B.C.E. he initiated a rebellion against his median overlord, and he succeeded after 3 years. By 548 B.C.E. he had all of Iran under his control and in 546 B.C.E. he conquered the powerful kingdom of Lydia in Anatolia. Between 545 B.C.E. and 539 B.C.E he campaigned in central Asia and Bactria and in 539 B.C.E., after a quick campaign, he seized Babylonia, and their vassal states immediately recognized Cyrus as their lord. Within a period of 20 years, Cyrus went from a minor regional king to the ruler of an empire that stretched from India to the border of Egypt. Cyrus managed to expand the empire by using the wealth and resources he had attained after conquering Lydia to extend Persian authority to new lands and build the earliest set of vast imperial states of classical times.
2. Why does the book say that Darius was “more important as an administrator than as a conqueror?”
Darius was “more important as an administrator than as a conqueror” because governing a vast empire is much harder than conquering it. The Achaemenid (another name for Persian) rulers had to preside over more than 70 different ethnic groups that included widely scattered regions, different languages, and a multitude of religious and cultural traditions. The Achaemenids established lines of communication between all parts of their empire and design a system that would allow for taxation and administration. By doing this, they not only made it possible for their empire to survive, but also created administrative techniques that would survive longer than their dynasty and influence political life in southwestern Asia for centuries.